|The First Pasadena
State Bank Building
Photo courtesy Robert Farmer, 2007
a Pecan Shell
The site was named
after that other Pasadena, when it was founded in 1893. Galvestonian
John H. Burnett likened the lush semi-tropical vegetation to that
of California and since he was platting the town, he also had naming
rights. The following year the La Porte, Houston and Northern Railroad
arrived and the town developed along agricultural lines - industry
and oil were in the (near) future.
After the Great
Storm of 1900, Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross,
presented area farmers with 1.5 million strawberry plants to help
them recover from the storm's damage. With this jump-start, Pasadena
became overnight a strawberry capital - a fact that people
are reminded of every Spring when they have their annual Strawberry
Festival. In addition to strawberries, the sandy soil also produced
cantaloupes, cucumbers, and other close-to-the-ground produce.
Pasadena had a private school as early as 1894 and it joined the Harrisburg
Common School District in 1895. In 1899 Pasadena formed the first
ISD in Harris County but it wasn't until 1924 when a four-year high
school program was established. Genoa and South Houston school districts
were consolidated with Pasadena in 1935.
In 1893 a Union Sunday school was holding meetings while adults attended
a union church in nearby Deepwater. In 1896 the Methodists formed
a church and two years later the Baptists formed theirs. Then the
roles were reversed when the Baptists completed their building in
1905 and the Methodists completed their building two years after that.
The Assembly of God church was formed and built their church building
within a few years.
incorporated shortly before Christmas, 1923, and then took the unusual
step of disincorporating eleven months later. The city reincorporated
The town had been plated on the southern bank of Buffalo Bayou, which
was to become the Houston Ship Channel. Joseph Stephen Cullinan of
Sour Lake moved
his Texaco headquarters to Houston
in 1906, purchasing 200 acres in Pasadena along the way. He was among
the first to see the possibilities and the inevitable importance of
the ship channel. Texaco, Sinclair and Crown oil companies all built
refineries alongside the channel by 1920.
In the late 1930s, Pasadena made the transition from an agricultural
economy to an industrial one. The looming war in Europe created a
demand for ship-channel industries. The population jumped from a mere
3,436 in 1940 to 22,483 by 1950. Smaller communities like Red Bluff
were swallowed up. In the 1970s Red Bluff was remembered for it's
soon-to-be defunct Drive-in Movie Theater (The Red Bluff Drive In)
and is now remembered only for Red Bluff road. From less than 2 square
miles in 1893, Pasadena grew to nearly 60 square miles by 1980.
The population continues to grow and from 122,805 in 1990, it has
increased further - showing 141, 647 on the 2004 Texas highway map.
Free Hospital Ice Cream, but no Free Movie Passes
I have called
Pasadena, Texas my hometown for 51 years now, as do two of my five
siblings. My earliest memories are of a duplex on Witter Street,
in North Pasadena. The place sat up on cinderblocks and on a hot
day I would be under the house playing in the dirt. Hey, that is
what four year-olds do! At the age of five I fell off the porch
and broke my arm. That was my first taste of hospital life. Did
you know in those days the old white brick Southmore Hospital had
a button on the bed and when you pushed it you could ask for ice
cream and get it.
The city was to get a tall addition with the completion of the First
Pasadena State Bank Building in 1963. 12 stories of fine architecture.
The "Tall Lady of Pasadena" is still standing in 2007, although
she sits empty, waiting for a rebirth.
Rodeo grounds on Red Bluff Rd. where my Papaw Bryant took me to
my first circus at the old Rodeo arena.
My brothers and sisters would make the mile-long hike from Thomas
Street to Hwy 225 to go to the El
Capitan Theater. My eldest brother even got a job there. Remember
the Jane Fonda / Lee Marvin movie Catballou? Well, my brother said
the title song of that movie almost made him quit. I never got in
there for free - not once.
We lived in the Old Gardens subdivision between Thomas St. & Harrop,
which was a developement build for refinery families (as I was told
in earlier years). We laugh about it now, but the refineries back
then would burn off product with flares that were so bright that
we could play outside at night - as if it were daytime. Where else
but in a refinery town would kids run out and play in the fog produced
by the mosquito spraying truck. Here we are now, all over 50 and
still bug free. - Robert Farmer, Pasadena, Texas, October 17, 2007
Pasadena Texas Forum
The Washburn Tunnel
The Washburn Tunnel connects Pasadena with the East End of Houston
(near Channelview) via Federal Rd. - Tim Holmes, Jr., Houston, Texas,
July 17, 2008
Theaters Again 11-10-06
Pasadena, Texas/Late 1950's to 1965
My first sight of Pasadena had to be (the best I remember) in 1958.
My Mom and Dad and Brother and myself moved from Indiana or Kentucky
to Pasadena Texas because my Mother had family there and since I
went to 7 different elementary schools and my Dad was a house painter,
evidently we liked to move from one place to another.
So I ended up going to Golden Acres (a suburb of Pasadena) Elementary
in the 5th grade and then to Pomeroy Elementary for the 6th grade
in 1959. I remember making good enough grades the year I was there
that I got to be a street crossing guard when school let out which
got me out of class a few minutes early and also I got to wear the
hat with the badge on it and the white web belt cross thing that
went across your chest and carry the cane fishing pole with the
red "Stop"flag on the end of it.
Then on to Jackson Junior High School for the 7th, 8th and 9th grades.
I don't really seem to have a lot of memories of that time period.
I was probably just glad to pass each grade and move on toward graduation.
Finally in 1963 I started the 10th grade at Pasadena High School
and was really struggling to make passing grades. I remember taking
Auto Mechanics for 3 hours a day my last 2 years at PHS and that
was just to graduate because at that time Algebra and any higher
math were elective classes and I was having enough trouble with
business math. The night I graduated from Pasadena High, my family
packed up and we moved on to North Louisiana. But Pasadena was at
that time the longest I had ever lived anywhere and it sure seemed
I eventually moved on to the Navy for 4 years then back to North
Louisiana and eventually hired on with South Central Bell and got
transferred to South Alabama where I still live but Pasadena has
always held fond memories for me.
I still miss it after all these years. Thanks for letting me share
my memories. - Ron Mason, August 30, 2006
Garden Elementary [so] I remember the Long'
s Theater. I must say that I only attended that theater about
five times in my life. They built the Gardens Theater and had a
lot of things for kids to do. On Saturdays we could get on stage
and sing and dance. A lot of fun things like who could finish a
baby bottle full of water first. Yep, the nipple was on there and
they had prizes for us.
Then it burned down and along came the Capitan.
Now what I remember were the seats. They would push back to let
people get by. When I got married I was able to bring my son to
the crying room. My family and I moved to Waco to go to Baylor College.
I also worked at Woolworth's during the summer. Klin's Ice Cream
was across the street from the high school. Do you remember that
the cones and cups were square? Terry Reed worked there. We all
lived in the Gardens. We had a lot of things to grow up with. My
children all say they wished that they were born in the late 30's.
[Does anyone] remember when the police started giving jaywalking
tickets in front of the high school [or] the Rodeo out on Red Bluff
Road? We had two drive-in theaters also. One I want to say [was]
on Shaver and then the Red Bluff. Galveston
was always our playground during the summer. I now live close to
Dallas and sometimes go back and look around. - Jimmie Killebrew,
Wade School 1944-1956, May 22, 2006
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